CONCERT REVIEW: Ann Wilson Live at Sony Hall


 

In a time where people tend to throw around the word “legend”, I had the great fortune to experience an incredibly intimate evening with a true legend at Sony Hall last week. Ann Wilson, the undeniable and unmistakable voice of Heart, delivered the goods on the New York City stop of her tour. She’s supporting her new release Fierce Bliss. The album, like so many others to come out this year, was a product of the abundance of time off courtesy of Covid. Ann used her time very wisely and enlisted the help of a wide variety of heavy hitters including Vince Gill, Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

Many times, artists in a similar point as Ann career-wise (legacy acts), throw an album together just to have something to tour behind. The result is usually the band playing one or two songs off the album and the rest of the set is made up of the classic material. I’m happy to say that her set was about 40% Heart classics, 15% covers and 45% cuts off Fierce Bliss – and I was far from the only person in the room that was digging on the New songs. I spoke with several people in the crowd as we were enjoying the afterglow of Ann and the amazing Dawgs – her band. So many expressed what I was feeling; we were fortunate to see and hear and feel Ann that night. And I was fortunate to join her as she shared bits of her soul and how it was affected by the pandemic.

We talked about the songs like “Greed,” “A Moment in Heaven” and “Black Wing” from the new album. Everyone remarked how flawless her voice sounded (we are talking about a 72 year old woman after all). I didn’t speak to a single audience member that didn’t love the new songs she played. Several fans made mention of the fact that there may not be another chance to see her play live.

 

As for the rest of the set, the Heart classics included “Even it Up,” “ Straight On,” “Crazy On You,” “Magic Man” and “Barracuda.” A cherry on top was the deep cut “Mistral Wind”, a jewel off the Dog and Butterfly album. One of the other super cool things about Ann Wilson (on my personal list of cool things about Ann Wilson ) is the fact that she always fits a couple of covers into her show. Her interpretations can be true to the original and sometimes she takes a different path but either way she always puts her stamp on it. With that being said, she never makes any changes to Led Zeppelin arrangements – she holds those sacred and there’s always at least one Led Zep cover when she plays. She did “Going to California” and “Black Dog” as her encores and they were true to the record and picture perfect. Other covers she played were The Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me,” “Forget Her” by Jeff Buckley, “Bridge of Sighs” by Robin Trower and the Queen ballad “Love of My Life.” Fierce Bliss contains recorded versions of the Queen and Trower tunes – Vince Gill sings a duet with Ann on “Love of My Life” and Kenny Wayne Shepherd brings his guitar mastery to “Bridge of Sighs.”

Almost all the members of the amazing Dawgs are on the album which makes for a pristine representation of the music. These guys are like a Nashville murderer’s row – undeniable heavy hitters.

One thing I have to admit didn’t cross my mind until one concert goer commented to me, she didn’t do any of the 80s MTV hits like “Alone” or “What About Love.” The show was so incredible that I didn’t even miss songs that I truly loved. That speaks volumes to the power and glory of Ann Wilson and the amazing Dawgs.

Buy the album here: https://lnk.to/AnnWilsonFierceBliss

 

MELISSA TUNYLA/ OPTIC MONKEY IMAGES

PHOTOS BY CRISS CAIN USED WITH PERMISSION